by Michelle Teo, Photos courtesy of Arte Oro
- Consumers are seeking daring designs that show off individuality and varied tastes
- There is an opportunity to further integrate Singapore’s cultural heritage into designs, while promoting local artisans
- Trade agreements, international partnerships, investments in early-stage projects, and international exhibitions can uplift the industry
Innovation in design, fair trade, and sustainable practices will be key to the growth of the jewellery industry in Singapore, and its rise as the region’s jewellery hub, says veteran artisan jeweller Danilo Giannoni.
Danilo, the Italian founder of bespoke jeweller Arte Oro, observes that clients are seeking more daring designs that show off their personality and varied tastes. This, he believes, comes as the post-pandemic desire for self-expression and individuality, coupled with growing awareness of sustainable business practices.
“People are looking to make statements with their fashion as a form of personal empowerment,” Danilo surmises.
And, it is an opportunity for local craftsmanship to shine. “When I opened Arte Oro in Singapore, my idea was to bring more benefits to consumers, and elevate Singapore’s profile as a jewellery hub in Southeast Asia,” he says.
In his view, the city-state can leverage its global luxury presence, and reputation for quality and innovation in design and technology, to strengthen its position as a top destination for fine jewellery.
There is also scope to further integrate Singapore’s cultural heritage into designs, while promoting local artisans. This is already evident in local brands that produce accessories and heirloom pieces.
“At Arte Oro, we have pushed this from Day One: ‘Made in Singapore’ as a guarantee for gemstone quality and sourcing, and quality of the local craftsmanship,” Danilo adds.
Obstacles to Growth
Hailing from Alessandria, in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, Danilo brought Arte Oro to Singapore in 2015 to focus on customised jewellery – or “translating personal stories into wearable works of art”, as described on the atelier’s website.
In this time, he has observed that the jewellery industry in Singapore faces a number of challenges. For one, there are a number of risks to businesses, owing to global and economic uncertainties. Jewellers also have to contend with the growing prevalence of lab-grown gemstones, which has led to consumer confusion; and shifts to digital platforms.
“We are artists, but we also need to transform to [technology and digital marketing strategies],” Danilo says. Jewellery businesses need to undergo “pre-emptive restructuring to prepare for a new business landscape, including expanding their teams and improving their online presence.”
Danilo adds that jewellers here receive little protection in terms of fair trade. “Suppliers come directly and sell to the end-consumers, without [the need for] licensing and other obligations, while we [as jewellers] are subject to regulations from customs, banks, and so on.”
In light of these issues, Danilo proposes a number of initiatives that he argues would elevate Singapore’s profile as a jewellery hub.
For one, the industry could use support from the government and investors to promote Singapore as a jewellery hub. This could take the form of trade agreements and international partnerships, as well as investments in early-stage projects, on top of the international events and exhibitions such as the Singapore International Jewellery Expo, which attracts global buyers, he says.
“I really think it’s time to open [discussions] with the government to see if there is a real interest [in turning] Singapore into a centre of art and manufacturing.”
The small, local businesses could also do with more help in fostering innovation in design by investing in talent, such as expanding training and education opportunities, for jewellers to master new technologies and design skills. There is also the need to better integrate online and offline sales channels.
At the same time, it is important to promote sustainable industry practices, such as ethically-sourced materials. “Growing environmental awareness is boosting the popularity of lab-grown diamonds and sustainable jewellery practices,” Danilo says.
He also sees an advantage in having jewellery produced locally, particularly as consumers are keen on being involved in the process, which can help support designers here while reducing the risks that tend to be associated with complex supply chains.
Ultimately, the jewellery shopping experience has evolved, and clients want the ‘made for me’ experience. “With the advancement of online retail, consumers now enjoy more flexibility in purchasing fine jewellery,” Danilo says. Whether shopping for discrete luxury or bespoke, “clients want an immersive experience that allows them to be at the centre of attention.”
“Arte Oro’s strategy would be to focus on fostering a robust digital infrastructure, emphasising local craftsmanship, continuing to innovate, and enhancing customer engagement through personalised services,” he says.
To Make An Impact
Dramatic and expressive choices are alla moda for 2024, according to Danilo Giannoni. Oversized pieces in a multitude of jewelled hues are the perfect post-pandemic picks, allowing wearers to demonstrate confidence and freedom, and reflect the modern aesthetics that cater to a wide range of tastes.
These pieces can be personalised, such as with custom gemstone settings, which offers versatility and the opportunity to show off rare-coloured stones.
Here are his top five ways to wear 2024’s jewellery trends:
In a modern twist to the elegant classic, as seen in the collections of Givenchy and Rejina Pyo, oversized pearls are the bold way to go.
Statement pieces with large, vibrant stones have been seen on royalty and celebrities alike over the past few years. Coloured gemstones show off one’s personality, and while the rings add a touch of luxury for casual wear, they can be paired with more formal accessories such as opera gloves, as well as complement ornate hair accessories.
Striking and shoulder-grazing earrings were everywhere on the Fall/Winter 2023-24 runways. Hanging from lobes or cuffed higher up, earrings in bold gold or with pearls and jewels are a shot of confidence, and made for the red carpet and special events.
A bold band of metal on the wrist packs a punch and can transform a basic outfit into an edgy one. Cuffs can come in a range of metals and designs – such as a hammered finish or one encrusted with gems, giving the wearer a choice of looks – conservative or otherwise.
Jewellery pieces featuring three-dimensional floral motifs or animal-inspired designs complement the patterns often seen on clothing and other accessories.